Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues could have been cringe-worthily terrible: the desecration of the Mona Lisa with an aerosol spray can. But actually, it’s a pretty good attempt to recapture and extend the hilarious concepts developed in the first film.
We’ve moved on 10 years to the ‘80s and the egotistical and politically incorrect Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) is struggling to cope with the social and media changes happening around him. For a start, after being fired by the boss of his New York news TV station (a great cameo performance) he is recruited by Freddie Shapp (Dylan Baker, the excellent psycho wife-killer from “The Good Wife”) to anchor a segment of a brand new concept – a 24 Hour news channel that Burgundy thinks is a ridiculous idea (I’m with him on that). His first task is to take their old news truck on a cross-country road trip to round up his old San Diego news team of Brian (Paul Rudd), Champ (David Koechner) and Brick (Steve Carell), each of who have followed different career paths since the last film. On the return journey, Ron displays his ignorance of cruise control resulting in a cataclysmic crash: a brilliantly funny slow-mo laugh fest.
Where this film succeeds is in gathering around Ron all of the original team from the first film, including Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) and Baxter (not the original!). And most of the scenes that made us roar with laughter in the original return for a retread, including jazz flute (but on ice!) and a hand-to-hand omni-channel news team fight of biblical proportions. And yes, it escalates quickly! This scene in the sequel outdoes the original in terms of star cameo performances – the leads and producers clearly have a bulging filofax of star contacts and when rung up with the question “Do you want to be in the new Anchorman film?” the response was a no-brainer. Very funny.
As for the original film, this is not a film to take your easily-offended grandmother to. There are numerous sexual and drug references, as well as material offensive to black people and (particularly) the blind. Steve Carell in particular is hilarious, having a bizarre romance with his intellectual soul-mate (Kristen Wiig) thrown in with great effect.
What is clear from the film (and evident from the fact that many scenes in the trailer are different from in the final cut), this was a production where anarchy ruled and many scenes were improvised. It is alleged that the DVD will actually have multiple versions of the film, made up from different takes: “random film generator” could be an interesting new opportunity for Blu-ray perhaps?
It’s not Anchorman: how could it be, when that first film was a fresh and funny classic? Some of its gags and nonsensical dialogue falls flat in the ‘trying too hard’ category. However, I thought it was a good comedy film, and if you liked the original Anchorman you will like this film. As with all comedy and particularly with this style, I can see that this could be a ‘Marmite film’ – many could just find the comedy juvenile and unfunny. Anchorman 3: Ten Year’s Later? – erm, no thanks. This was good, but let’s not go down the Home Alone route please.
Finally – and you know in these reviews that if I veer towards ranting about anything it will be about trailers – this film is curious in that the main trailer that was seen in UK cinemas actually made you assume your worst fears about the film were going to come true: it was remarkably unfunny and actively put me off seeing the film. I’m not sure why they did this, but the US trailer below is much more representative.
Fad Rating: FFFf.